Monday, 2 January 2017

"My Generation: Deluxe Edition" by THE WHO (2002 MCA/Chronicles/Universal 2CD Reissue – Eric Labson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Talking About…My Generation..."

'Explosive Debut' is the kind of buzz phrase that gets bandied about a lot in the Music Industry – as does the tag 'Bad Boys of Rock'. But one look at this group of terribly nice, well-groomed and exquisitely well-mannerly British youths – and you just know you should lock up your virginal daughters and padlock the drinks cabinet.

Even now – from the safe distance of nearly 50 years – The Who’s debut sounds snotty and wild – like it’s going to use a Royal Corgi for bow and arrow target practice. And that’s before we even talk about Keith Moon. It’s fabulous stuff. Here are the Union Jack Blazers and the Swinging Fa-Fa-Fa-Fade Away Microphones…

Released September 2002 (reissued 2012) – "My Generation: Deluxe Edition" by THE WHO on MCA/Chronicles/Universal 088 112 926-2 (Barcode 008811292621) is a 2CD Reissue and Remaster and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 – The Original Album in Stereo - 50:23 minutes:
1. Out In The Street
2. I Don’t Mind
3. The Good’s Gone
4. La-La-La Lies
5. Much Too Much
6. My Generation
7. The Kids Are Alright
8. Please, Please, Please
9. It’s Not True
10. I’m A Man
11. A Legal Matter
12. The Ox
13. Circles

The UK album was issued 3 December 1965 in MONO only on Brunswick LAT 8616 (Tracks 1 to 12 above). The American version was released 25 April 1966 entitled “The Who Sings My Generation” on both Decca DL 4664 (Mono) and Decca DL7-4664 (Stereo). To sequence the US STEREO album use tracks 1 to 9 and 11 to 13. Note: only the STEREO mix is provided.

14. I Can’t Explain
15. Bald Headed Woman (14 and 15 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7” single released 15 January 1965 on Brunswick 05926 and USA 7” single released 13 February 1965 on Decca 31725). Both tracks feature THE IVY LEAGUE on Backing Vocals while “I Can’t Explain” only features PERRY FORD on Piano and JIMMY PAGE on Guitar.
NICKY HOPKINS plays piano on all tracks except “I Can’t Explain”

16. Daddy Rolling Stone (non-album track, B-side to the UK 7” single of “Anyway Anyhow Anywhere” released 21 May 1965 on Brunswick 05935)

Disc 2 ADDITIONAL BONUS TRACKS – 65:23 minutes:
1. Leaving Here (Alternate)
2. Lubie (Come Back Home)
3. Shout And Shimmy (non-album track, B-side to the UK 7” single “My Generation” released 29 October 1965 on Brunswick 05944)
4. (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave
5. Motoring
6. Anytime You Want Me (non-album track, B-side of the US 7” single “Anyway Anyhow Anywhere” released 5 June 1965 on Decca 31801)
7. Anyhow, Anywhere, Anyway (Alternate)
8. Instant Party Mixture
9. I Don’t Mind (Full Length Version)
10. The Good’s Gone (Full Length Version – 4:30 minutes, original 4:00 minutes)
11. My Generation (Instrumental Version)
12. Anytime You Want Me (A Cappella Version)

13. A Legal Matter
14. My Generation
Tracks 1 and 8 to 12 are Previously Unreleased, 7 is Previously Unreleased in the USA (only available on a French EP)

The outer plastic slipcase has the track titles on the rear and it houses a four-way foldout digipak with the artwork for the US Decca Records cover on the inner flaps (the British sleeve is used on the front). Beneath each see-through tray are those elusive I.B.C Sound Recording Studios tape boxes dated 13 October 1965 (nice). The oversized 28-page booklet inside the right flap features three histories of what happened – first by MIKE SHAW their first Production Manager – then SHEL TALMY the Producer of the “My Generation” Sessions and finally an appraisal called “About My Generation” by ANDY NEILL. There are a few Decca Adverts for American 45s, great live photos of the band in full microphone swing as well as extensive reissue credits.

But the big news (for British fans in particular) is the STEREO versions – available for the first time in decades after protracted legal hassles (resolved for this reissue). Remixed by Shel Talmy (the original Producer) and Universal’s Andy McKaie from the original three-track master tapes - the overall remaster has been carried out by one of Universals most trusted and respected engineers – ERICK LABSON. And what a stonking audio marvel all three have produced. This thing rocks - with the instruments and vocals as clear as you could ever hope for. There’s no doubt it might have been smarter (and more accurate) to include the MONO mix of the album – and even the MONO singles surrounding it – but what is here is superb. 

The opening treated guitar and growling Roger Daltrey vocals of “Out In The Street” come as something of a shock having heard them in Mono for so long. But it’s not until you get to the superb “The Good’s Gone” that it all comes together – the fabulous remaster making each instrument stand out in a song that has the real menace of The Who. The Acapella beginning of “Much Too Much” is incredibly clear and then we’re hit with the anthem – “My Generation” – and all resistance is futile. What a song – and in truth – it stands head and shoulders above most of the other tracks on the album – I hope you don’t die at all mate never get old. Both “The Kids Are Alright” and “It’s Not True” show Townshend’s double-edged songwriting talent – catchy tunes about social and personal hurt.

Outside of “My Generation” - their wild version of Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man” is a real indication of just how incendiary they could get (even in the studio). The other two covers are both stabs at James Brown – “I Don’t Mind” and “Please Please Me” – but in truth they sound like lukewarm filler - or worse – plain out of place. Back to madness with the instrumental finisher “The Ox” - Nicky Hopkins on Piano trying to keep up with the full-speed-ahead drumming of Keith Moon and heavy riffage of Townshend. It’s a great way to finish the album and is rightly credited to four composers – Townshend, Moon, Entwistle and Hopkins.

Amongst the unreleased “Leaving Here (Alternate)” shows off Moon’s great drumming where the band sound like they’ve soaking up too many Marvin Gaye Motown singles. For some reason the Alternate take of “Anyway Anyhow Anywhere” is credited as “Anyhow, Anywhere, Anyway” and has a wilder guitar sound (very cool) while the Long version of “The Good’s Gone” extends the album cut from 4 minutes to 4 and a half – it’s excellent. The unreleased instrumental of “My Generation” has studio chatter “mucking about” and that huge bass run by Entwistle. Even cooler is the Mono version of it that ends Disc 2 – it has extra guitar overdubs that come in over the bass solo – what a blast.

"...People try to put us down…" – in the case of The Who – I doubt they’re going to succeed…

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